Sermon Illustrations


On December 26, 2002, Jack Whittaker’s life changed forever

Jack had grown up in West Virginia and he knew that it was like to be poor. At the age of 55 all of that had changed. It had changed with a lot of hard work and perseverance. He had managed to scrape himself up out of the ruts of life working in the construction industry. He now owned a company that laid water and sewer pipes in new construction subdivisions. All of the hard work had made him a happy and apparently fulfilled man. His company employed more than 100 people and all those who knew Jack felt that he was a good fellow. He had some quirks and wanted the job done right but as long as it was completed efficiently Jack was easy to deal with.

He was married to a wife of 40 years and had a granddaughter that he doted on. It was overall a good life and from the appearance of things it was about to improve in a major way. On the morning of December 26, 2002, Jack took a little small ticket from his pocket and cashed in. It wasn’t just a little nickel and dime’s worth of winnings but Jack had become the largest winner of Powerball since its inception. His ticket was worth $314 million A day would come when all the West Virginians would shudder to think of what had happened with Jack’s life but not on the morning of December 26, 2002.

By the time that taxes had taken a cut, Jack come away with less than half of the money which was still quite a payday. Almost $114 million was pocketed. After making rounds on all the morning shows, Jack actually demonstrated an idea that maybe he was level-headed enough to manage all of the wealth that had suddenly been dumped in his lap.

Brenda, who had served him biscuits as a waitress at a small restaurant in town, benefited greatly. Jack bought here a house for $123,000 and then wrote her a check for $44,000. She was dumbfounded and tried to talk him out of it but he would not hear of it. It greatly touched Brenda because she had grown up on welfare and had literally lived from hand-to-mouth her entire life.

It wasn’t long before the problems begin to show up. One night Jack walked into a club that offered all sorts of fleshly fares and dropped $15,000 on the bar and told the bar’s owner that the night was on him. He said that he wanted all to indulge until they couldn’t take any more. So the downfall started at the Pink Pony. It progressed from there to the racetrack and gaming centers and the money got to Jack.

Jewell was trying her best to lead a semblance of the way that life used to be. She continued to go to church and took the Bible “literally” as she says. She greatly disapproved of Jack’s drinking, gambling, and otherwise “horsing around.” Because of her disapproval it was sort of like the stimulus that pulls filings to a magnet, Jack just started trying to ride bigger “horses.”

With this change on the inside, some outward changes soon followed. He once took pride in his appearance, now his clothes were wrinkled and soiled with food and drink and his negligence with a razor gave him the look of a run-down hobo. When he came to the bars, his presence was that of extreme arrogance and belligerence that few really wanted to be around him but because of his Powerball winnings, people felt obligated to put up with his antics.

But the trouble at home escalated. His granddaughter, Brandi, suddenly lost her grandfather but she had huge wads of cash to take his place. It was nothing for her to have $5000 a day to spend. Because she had money, her set of friends also changed because it changed her too. Some predators who sold drugs soon enticed her into smoking marijuana...

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